Sport Direct tycoon Mike Ashley has reportedly made a fresh bid for Debenhams, reviving his long-standing pursuit of the department store chain.
The retail billionaire this month submitted an improved offer as the auction for Debenhams nears its final stages, the Sunday Times reported.
Debenhams, which collapsed into administration in April, has hired Lazard to conduct a sale process.
It has also appointed Hilco Capital to liquidate the business if it fails to find a buyer — a move that would put more than 12,000 jobs at risk.
Ashley previously owned almost 30 per cent of Debenhams and lost £150m when the chain was taken over by its lenders last year.
He oversaw a shake-up of the company’s management, ousting chairman Sir Ian Chairman and boss Sergio Bucher from the board and launching an unsuccessful attempt to install himself as chief executive.
The outspoken tycoon also backed a failed legal challenge by landlords over Debenhams’ company voluntary arrangement, which earmarked 50 stores for closure and allowed the firm to slash rents at 100 further sites.
Ashley could be well placed to snap up the chain after India’s richest man reportedly pulled out of the auction. Mukesh Ambani, who owns Reliance Retail, had been the frontrunner in the race.